PFAS clean-up bill nears $37m with more cash set aside
Council has spent almost $37 million on PFAS management at Sunshine Coast Airport and set aside an extra $3.3 million for further mitigation measures expected to be required.
The figures, revealed in Sunshine Coast Council's latest annual report, confirmed $3.32 million had been set aside as of June 30 to allow for further mitigation measures expected to be needed to allow for the new runway construction to continue.
It was unclear how much of that had been spent, if any, since June 30, with the concrete apron for larger aircraft not due to be finished until late-November or early-December, despite the new $334 million, 2450m-long runway being commissioned on June 14.
The 2019-20 annual report stated council had spent $36.864 million to-date on "consultant reporting, site investigation, testing and mitigation works to address the issues to the satisfaction of DES (Department of Environment and Science)".
In February the Daily reported council had confirmed a figure of $25 million set aside in August, 2019, would be fully expended, on top of almost $18 million already spent.
Line items in notes to financial statements listed in the 2019-20 annual report showed PFAS mitigation totalled $17.881 million in the 2018-19 financial year and $3.32 million was budgeted in the 2019-20 financial year.
The 2018-19 annual report stated council had incurred about $18 million already and a further $20 million had been recognised as at June 30, 2019, as a provision for further mitigation required.
It was noted in the latest annual report that a new PFAS National Management Plan adopted by the Heads of Environment Protection Authorities Australia and New Zealand had triggered the environmental issues.
The report stated as a result of the new plan being adopted, the state Department of Environment and Science identified "environmental issues related to the management of PFAS" at the Sunshine Coast Airport site.
The report stated the almost-$37 million spent was "required to be incurred in order to continue construction of the runway".
The management of the issue became a flashpoint in the community, with measures undertaken including installation of a 22 million litre water tank on site, and a $2.5 million pipeline was planned to be built to drain ponded water from the site under the David Low Way and out to sea, but was not required.
Council had been aware of PFAS issues at the airport since 2010, but the problem arose during construction, when a deluge left ponded water up to 1m deep in parts, requiring action to allow construction to continue on-time.
In February the Daily reported council had faced contractor penalties of nearly $150,000 a day, as it grappled with how to manage the issue.
The new runway aspect of the airport expansion project was ultimately delivered on-time, and council claimed, under budget.
The new runway was handed over to operating partner Palisade and Sunshine Coast Airport on June 12.
Council funded the project with borrowings from the Queensland Treasury Corporation, with those borrowings to be retired in 2022, when Palisade was due to pay council $372 million as part of a repayment plan.
The project team was acknowledged this week with the project of the year and projects over $10 million award by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Queensland for the $334 million airport expansion runway project.
Cr Jason O'Pray, who made headlines in late-2019 when he took to drinking water being pumped off the site to prove it was safe, was confident the project would pick up a national award when they were presented next year.